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How to Manage a Micro-Manager

Why does someone become a micro-manager in the first place? Often it’s to do with a need to control, and is aligned to fear and insecurity. People are sometimes fearful when they become managers because of both lack of inner confidence and the pressure they feel in the role. Some of this is probably what they bring from their history and, possibly, home life. The impact of stuff going on at home can influence the way people behave at work. All of us have the capability to be a micro-manger. Some people who have a natural propensity for micro-managing learn not to; some who normally wouldn’t can be driven to becoming a micro-manager by circumstances. The phrase “you are what you measure” is particularly pertinent to this issue. When a manager becomes more focused on one thing, it also becomes the big issue amongst staff as well. The manager is defined by it and so is the team. An unintended consequence of being what you measure is to create a micro-manager—whether you have a propensity for it or not.

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Depending on how good your organisational sense is, you should, as an individual member of your team, be able to work out what is important to the micro-manager. This is true whether you’re above, alongside or beneath them in terms of role. 1. Give the micro-manager space Don’t smother them and micro-manage them the way that they do with other people. Show them how it can be for other people. Role modelling in this way can encourage the micro-manager to change. 2. Open their eyes to how others feel A micro-manager may think it’s all about them. They’re not good at putting themselves in someone else’s position. Ask them how they think it feels to work for them. Give them the opportunity to see this for themselves. 3. Watch micro-managers at work Try and know their world as best you can. Watch for the timing of the swings in their behaviour. There will be certain times of the day, or week, where they get more agitated. Knowing their pressure points and times can help you ease them. 4. Anticipate their needs Once you know what triggers them, you can anticipate those stressors and provide them with what they need early on. This helps them manage their responses to the pressure points without slipping into micro-management mode. 5. Ask what you can do As well as anticipating their needs, simply ask them what their needs are. Tomorrow might be the day when they have to take their child to school but they also have an early meeting. So today ask what you can do to make life easier when they arrive at the office tomorrow morning.

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6. Be on time It’s much easier to manage an office where everyone turns up at the place they said they’re going to be at the time they said they were going to be there. A micro-manager hates feeling out of control and if they feel out of control because someone’s not sticking to the pre-agreed schedule, they’re just going to be aggravated into making unfair demands on everyone else. 7. Show other team members how to be a better colleague It’s not just you who should be shouldering the responsibility of neutralising someone’s instinct to micro-manage. Explain to others in your team what you’re doing to ease the micro-manager’s anxiety and encourage them to do the same. 8.

Encourage feedback

Getting team members to treat the micro-manager in a certain way also gives them the right to make their own comments at appraisal time about how it feels to work for this person. The manager in question can only learn from the constructive feedback of others. 9. Plan things out Discuss, as a team, what you can do to co-ordinate things in such a way that there’s no need for the micro-manager to fret about how everything is running. 10. Check your attitude If you’re the micro-manager’s superior, consider how much leeway you can afford to allow them. Consider how important they actually are to the organization. If they’re a pain in the neck and not that crucial to the company’s success, you have good reason to get rid of them - but if they’re invaluable to the organisation because of some particular skill or quality, they’re worth bearing. This checklist has been created by Position Ignition Ltd, one of the UK’s leading career consulting companies. Please contact enquiries@positionignition.com for more information or to suggest additional resources. Follow us @PosIgnition www.positionignition.com


How to Manage a Micro-Manager final